Britain confirmed a second outbreak of foot and mouth disease in a herd of cattle in southern England yesterday, raising fears the highly damaging animal disease may spread.
The owner of the first farm where the disease broke out said he was "completely shocked and devastated" by the outbreak which forced the slaughter of his entire herd.
Lending weight to one theory of how the virus spread, farmer Roger Pride said a sewer in a field where his cattle were grazing had overflowed.
Animals from both sites have been culled and 3 km exclusion zones and 10 km protection zones set up around the farms and the site of two research laboratories which have handled the virus.
"We've got to keep on top of this outbreak and make sure it doesn't spread anywhere else," Environment Secretary Hilary Benn told BBC television. He urged all farmers to be highly vigilant and check animals regularly for any sign of illness.
The outbreak poses an immediate threat to Britain's livestock industry, whose meat exports are worth more than US$1 billion a year.
The agriculture ministry denied reports that a third suspected case had been found near the first confirmed site.
Foot and mouth disease, which affects cloven-hoofed animals and can be carried on the wind, was confirmed in a small herd of cattle in Surrey, southeast England, on Friday.
It was the first outbreak of the disease in Britain since 2001, when the illness devastated the farming community.
More than six million animals were burnt on vast funeral pyres and the crisis cost agriculture and the rural tourism industry around £8.5 billion (US$17 billion).
The European Union banned all British exports of fresh meat, live animals and milk products last Friday when the disease was first confirmed.
China imposes ban
China yesterday announced a temporary ban on import of all live cloven-hoofed animals and their products from Britain following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease there.
The ban covers fresh meat as well as live cattle, pigs, sheep and goats and milk products, according to an announcement jointly issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
According to the announcement, any British livestock and related products shipped after July 8 would be returned or destroyed. Those shipped before the date could be allowed in after they were tested free of the foot and mouth disease.
Such products in postal packages or carried with passengers would also be destroyed or returned if seized.
(China Daily via agencies August 8, 2007)